Police report marked increase in assault cases

Police have reported a massive increase in the number of cases of assault they are now seeing on the island – a huge 80 per cent on the five year average – and mainly concentrated on incidents that occur in a “domestic setting” in Stornoway.
Police in Stornoway have recruited an analyst to get a better understanding on the rise in assaultPolice in Stornoway have recruited an analyst to get a better understanding on the rise in assault
Police in Stornoway have recruited an analyst to get a better understanding on the rise in assault

The year-on-year rise has led to the force using an analyst to help identify any patterns in the increased offending behaviour that might explain the issue.

Chief Inspector Alasdair Macleod told a meeting of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar’s Communities and Housing Committee on Tuesday that it was an issue which mainly concentrated on Stornoway rather than one occurring right across the islands.

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He reported that violent crime had risen by 51 per-cent in comparison to the same period in the previous year (year to end of September), and – staggeringly – was up by more than 80% per cent up on the five year average.

One unconfirmed location in Stornoway accounted for 10 per cent of the violent offences recorded in Stornoway, Chief Inspector Macleod confirmed, with a “noticeable peak” in offending occurring in the early hours of Saturday and Sunday mornings.

Six individuals between them accounted for 37 common assaults – nearly half of incidences of violent crime in the period, and Chief Inspector Macleod said that these individuals were being targeted to try and reduce their re-offending.

He said that the region was seeing “a marked and probably you would say a sustained increase in low-level violent crime with the vast majority of that due to common assaults.”

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Common assault is classified as a violent crime that does not cause serious injury, CI Macleod stated, and told the meeting that there had been an increase in all categories of common assault across the period, including assaults against emergency workers and assaults in a “domestic setting”.

In the same period, Chief Inspector Macleod confirmed the majority of offences had been committed in ‘dwelling houses’ , accounting for 53 per cent of offences, showing an increase in domestic assaults while violent crimes on the street accounted for 33 per cent of the incidences.

Alcohol was involved in 46 per cent of the crimes reported, 11 per-cent involved weapons and nine per cent involved drugs. Mental health was identified as an issue in 12 per cent of the reported incidences, he confirmed.

A total of 32 per cent of the offenders were males aged between 26 and 35, 17 per cent were committed by males aged 36-45 and nearly 18 per-cent was caused by females aged between 16 and 25.

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Chief Inspector Macleod said: “Thankfully anything that can be classed as serious violence remains relatively rare in our communities, and detection rates are high in the area, but Police Scotland would rather not see the crimes taking place in the first place.

“…From a police point of view, we are addressing this issue through targeting the repeat offenders, through the use of curfew and through robust enforcement of the curfew conditions, and a police presence at licensed premises particularly at dispersal periods.”

Chief Inspector Macleod added that there was not any issue at any particular licensed premises in Stornoway.